Since 2011’s “Video Games,” Lana Del Rey has led a growing femme fatale aesthetic in pop music. And as she prepares to release her Dan Auerbach-produced third album Ultraviolence on June 17, we’ve heard hints of that particular style in the brooding “Shades of Cool” and, even more so, in her haunting version of “Once Upon a Dream” for the Maleficent soundtrack. But in the album’s title track—a reference to A Clockwork Orange—she revisits the spirit of Born to Die that brought her early fame.
“Ultraviolence” opens with a majestic string arrangement, but that cools off as soon as Del Rey begins singing. “He used to call me DN/ That stood for deadly nightshade/ ’Cause I was filled with poison,” she says. As the song builds to its magnetic chorus, with a line borrowed from The Crystals’ “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss),” her voice becomes a feathery semi-falsetto. And, like much of Del Rey’s work, it includes a brief monologue in which she declares, “I love you forever.” This is Lana Del Rey at the top of her game.
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